Stephen F. Austin State University

Caney Creek Park (June 2018)

Caney Creek Park

by Jonnie Miller

This article will be a little different from my usual articles since it deals with a location in Newton that is currently in use and my favorite place in the county-Caney Creek Park. Newton is the place everyone wants to come home to, even if it never was your home.

As I walk through the park daily, I meet the same people over and over-my park friends; the young woman who carries her dog in a side sling because he can't keep up, the man who had a massive stroke but shuffles around the perimeter of the park in an effort to regain all the movement and strength that he can, the dog walker, the baby carriage pushers and the many other Newtonites. My curiosity was aroused, so with the help of the internet, the history center, and a friend at the County Clerk's office, Angie Brooks, I gathered what information I could and this article is the result. I also had help from my friend, Sam Collins.

The land for Caney Creek Park came from several sources including H.S. Hall et al in 1939. The park now consists of over 21 acres with a 2 acre central pond which has a huge fountain in the center. Development of the park did not begin until 1994. There are benches and tables for those who would like to sit and enjoy the cool breezes and the many animal species that live in the park. There are many species of birds, squirrels, snakes and even an alligator or two. The walking path circles the perimeter of the park and another path circles the central pond. There is also a walking path through the center of the park for those who don't want to walk the full perimeter. Another water feature is a long, curved canal-like strip along the western side of the park.

The park is a block west of the courthouse and on the west side of the creek. There are over 30 different species of trees in the park according to the garden club. Most of these trees are native Texas trees, except for a Chinese Tallow I'm trying to get them to cut down. While the park is beautiful with the many trees, wild flowers, water features, and animals year round, the park begins to shine between thanksgiving and Christmas when the Christmas train runs. The decorations increase every year and have expanded to both sides of the creek with nativity scenes as well as traditional Christmas scenes. The park attracts visitors from all over the United States. During the Christmas season three other fountains are engaged in the other water features but the biggest attraction is the big fountain that shoots up about 100 feet year round. There are memorial signs during Christmas to the loved ones who passed away over the years.

The last flood covered the park and highway 190 almost to the traffic light. It brought in beavers who managed to gnaw the bark on a few trees before the water receded and carried them back into the wilderness. Recently pink dogwood trees were planted along the east side of the park. A pair of hawks makes their home in the tallest pine just west of the main park each year. I often see them sitting in the very top of that pine. Bluebird boxes are located throughout the park donated by the Newton Garden Club.

There is Verbena in the park and a variety of sunflowers as well as other wildflowers. I've even seen a wild Texas orchid. For anyone who wants to enjoy the peace of a beautiful country park it is truly a pleasure to walk there.